Recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stirred the pot with a bold new proposal: a mandatory national service scheme for 18-year-olds in Britain. The Conservative Party announced that if they win the national election on July 4, this initiative would come to life, requiring young adults to participate in either community service or military training. To gauge public opinion on this controversial proposal, Real Research, an online survey app, conducted a survey.

Key Findings:

  • Despite concerns, 68.1% support the Conservatives’ plan to bring back mandatory national service for 18-year-olds in Britain.
  • If given the option, more people (54.88%) lean towards community service over military training (45.12%).
  • 70.32% believe participants in the scheme should receive financial compensation.

Community Service vs. Military Training

Figure 1: Preference for community service was slightly higher than military training.

The survey began by asking whether respondents were aware of the Conservatives’ plan to bring back mandatory national service. A solid majority, 67.7%, were indeed aware of it, while 32.3% were not. When asked which option they would prefer, 54.88% leaned towards community service, while 45.12% preferred military training.

Shared Purpose or Forced Compliance?

Sunak claims that the mandatory national service will foster a “shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country.” This sentiment appears to resonate with many, as 68.1% support the idea of implementing mandatory national service for 18-year-olds in Britain. However, 31.9% remain opposed.

Figure 2: The majority supports implementing mandatory national service for 18-year-olds in Britain.

However, the proposal isn’t without its concerns. One notable issue is the lack of defined punishments for those who might refuse to participate in the mandatory national service. This ambiguity raised concerns among 67.28%, while 32.72% were not troubled.

Paycheck for Service

Financial compensation for participants is another hot topic. While the Conservative Party has not confirmed this, 70.32% believe participants in the mandatory national service scheme should be compensated.

Figure 3: Should participants in the national service scheme receive financial compensation?

Moreover, the source of funding for this initiative—the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, originally intended to support community organizations post-Brexit—raised eyebrows. Some thought it was okay to use this money for the mandatory national service scheme (68.16%), but others (31.84%) disagreed.

Bonkers or Brilliant?

Lastly, the proposal hasn’t escaped criticism from high-profile figures either. Adm Alan West, a former chief of the naval staff, slammed the idea as “bonkers” and voiced concerns about its potential impact on the defense budget. Here, 64.5% sided with West’s critique.


Survey TitlePublic Opinion on Rishi Sunak’s Mandatory National Service for 18-year-olds
DurationMay 28 – June 5, 2024
Number of Participants5,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.